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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Voice of Reason

Ever what could make an ordinary morning routine into a fiery explosion of chaos, angry tears, and a screaming maniacal toddler (and the mother of three)?  It could be waking up on the wrong side of the bed, the wind blowing the wrong way, the wrong shirt, the wrong toothbrush or toothpaste, or how about a cupcake cut the wrong way? Woah, worse things have happened to people on this planet, cry me a river. Well today, somebody did.
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The Initial Spark

This morning, little AJ woke up quite late because I let him sleep in peacefully. Well why not, a quiet morning for Maggie and I since Lincoln was already off to daycare with Dad.  My kids usually like treats from the Chinese bakery - ham and egg bun, sausage rollups, coconut cream bun, and egg custard tarts. Today, there was only ONE egg custard tart left, actually that's all I got from grandma.  How about I give it to the one kid who hasn't started breakfast yet to get the morning going a wee bit faster? However Maggie wanted some too. No biggie, let's just cut it in half. Big mistake, AJ freaked out that I cut it.  Maggie bit into her half first and then decided she didn't want it any more. And that's what started the temper tantrum about the egg tart, that didn't stop for nearly 3 minutes of eternity while I tried to calm him.

The Fireworks come out

I slowly start to feel myself boil over. First I calmly said, "Stop crying, I cut it because there was only one and I wanted you guyz to share." Then I pause to concede, "I know you don't like it cut but I already did it I'm sorry". Then after a few more moments I get very irritated. "HEY this is a TREAAAAT!  I thought I would be nice and offer you a treat for breakfast. Now the morning is RUUUINNED! Why are you mad about cutting in half, just eat it OK or I'm throwing it outside for the wild turkeys!"  It took all my mortal strength to  not hurl the plate at the closed patio door. In that moment where I lost it, I guess I was sane enough to consider that I would rather not clean up shattered glass in a million pieces. It might seem funny now but at the moment, it wasn't.  I managed to open the patio door and set the plate gently on the kids picnic table outside, just on the wee chance someone might actually want to eat that, just before slamming the door so fast I nearly caught my pinkie. Then I change my mind suddenly  and run outside myself to calm down. Now Maggie gets hysterical too (don't blame her).

I run back inside to scream, "Why did you make me cut it if you don't even want to EEAAT IT?!!!!!!"  I run to my closet and continue freaking out about the same thing, about just trying to be nice and it's supposed to be a treat and it's not supposed to make everyone mad. The situation is way out of control. AJ is still screaming and crying in the kitchen but Maggie runs to me and offers me a hug.  But I continue to sob and shout uncontrollably.  She says, "Adults are not supposed to cry. Who's going to take care of us now? I want daddy."  The voice of reason speaks.

I continue to cry but I decide to direct my anger at the stupid egg custard tart. "Why?!!!" I shout to the heavens.  Eventually, Maggie's words start sinking in, I realize I am the adult in charge.  How can I be the mom they want me to be if I am freaking out.  Maggie had also said, "When you cry and shout it hurts my ears"   She runs back to the kitchen to comfort AJ. Glad to have a daughter like Maggie, wise beyond her years.

The Train Moves On

Anyways there is magic in the air, and AJ ends up eating the half of the egg tart.  Eventually they brush their teeth and change into morning clothes.  We have breached the timeline so we are even too late to drive to the bus stop.  Well after that first crisis of the day, there was no reason to be mad about being late.  Then AJ suddenly realizes that Daddy was gone for work before he woke up and got to give him a hug and kiss goodbye.  He cries and I am afraid of the next temper tantrum about to begin. All I can really do is give him a hug and just say, "He said bye to you before you woke up ok?"  and I had no choice but to ignore his tears and put on his socks, shoes and jacket.  I'm not really sure how he managed to calm down. I suppose he suddenly had to run to the bathroom  for nature's call and completely forgot what he was crying about.  Anyway, soon we are out the door. Mission Accomplished!

Pause for Self Reflection

Have you ever lost you cool?  How did you calm down? How do you calm down a child in a midst of a temper tantrum?

  1. Disaster Avoidance - just try to avoid situations that would cause a high risk of disturbance like the fight for one treat or treasure.
  2. Disaster Mitigation - try to calm the child at the first sign of the temper tantrum forming by hugging, rocking, or taking him physically away from the situation and offer a distraction (I noticed that Daddy does this quite effectively).
  3. All out war - Sometimes there is no choice but to let the disaster run it's course. There is no sense trying to talk logic and reasoning at this point. I might have lacked compassion and understanding or had other underlying baggage to deal with.

The most important thing is to maintain a clear head and not get too emotionally involved.  I often believe that tragic things sometimes happen in the news when a parent is reacting or punishing a child for something he has no control over be it a temper tantrum or wetting the pants.  Children's hearts and feelings are are very fragile, be very gentle with them.

Who is your voice of reason?   Your own willpower and conscience and clarity of thought, or perhaps another mature adult in the home. Was I even too angry to ask God to give me patience and compassion?  In my case it was my little 5 year angel daughter.

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